Volunteers distribute PPE to healthcare providers supporting agricultural workers


These Central Coast Chapter volunteers worked at the one-day event in Salinas in support of the healthcare providers who treat our agricultural workers. Full-size photos of this event can be viewed here. (All photos: Virginia and Albert Becker)

During this lethal pandemic, the shortage of PPE — personal protective equipment — has been an ongoing challenge for physicians, other healthcare workers, and medical groups in communities, counties, and states in our country.

In the Central Coast area of California, one of the most fertile areas in our agriculture-rich state, that need has been acutely felt by the often-small medical teams that care for the people whose fieldwork is the epitome of an essential service: our agricultural workers.

That’s why the support that more than two dozen volunteers from the Central Coast Chapter of the American Red Cross provided last week at a one-day PPE giveaway was also so essential.

At the event, which took place on July 27 at the Salinas Municipal Airport, 25 volunteers from the Red Cross chapter distributed close to $300,000 worth of medical-grade personal protective equipment — including N95 and surgical masks, gowns, gloves and face shields — to Monterey County practitioners who provide healthcare to local fieldworkers.

In addition to the Red Cross, the event was supported by the Monterey County and Santa Cruz County Medical Societies, the California Medical Association, the medical technology company Altais, and the State of California.


Central Coast Chapter volunteers worked tirelessly at the Salinas event, loading the PPE into vehicles for the Monterey County healthcare providers who lined up to receive it.

“We can’t thank our Central Coast volunteers enough for stepping up to provide the staffing at this lifesaving event,” says Patsy Gasca, the Red Cross’ Disaster Program Manager for Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties. “The other organizers of the event were able to secure the equipment in advance, but they reached out to their local Red Cross chapter for help distributing it at the airport event.”

Receiving the request for assistance, Gasca immediately put out a call for volunteer support. “Within 10 minutes, two dozen of our amazing volunteers had committed to help.”

Gasca says the PPE the chapter’s volunteers distributed that day is not only critically important for the healthcare providers. It also indirectly supports the agriculture workers, who — because they often work and live in close quarters — have experienced a higher incidence of COVID infections.

“Getting this PPE to these healthcare workers is a win-win,” Gasca says. “It will help keep them safe and make it so they are better able to provide the critical care that our local agricultural workers need so desperately right now.”

A big THANK YOU to the following Red Cross volunteers from the Central Coast Chapter who supported this event:

  • Laura Fullem-Chavis
  • Anthony Chavis
  • Dwayne Taaffe
  • John Crepeau
  • Sal Duran
  • Stephanie N.Bakarian
  • Natalie Foo
  • Debbie Sallen
  • Sandy Williamson
  • Anne Canright
  • Jay Dravich
  • Ann Bennett Young
  • Cathy Solms
  • Tom Wiley
  • Mark de la Vega
  • Sandy Granados-French
  • Joe French
  • Lea Goodman
  • Brenda Bodewitz
  • Douglas Anderson
  • Sandie Shelby
  • Suzanne Wallin
  • Anthony Angelo
  • Virginia Becker
  • Albert Becker


You too can volunteer: Do you want to be ready to respond when disaster strikes or help with lifesaving blood collections during the COVID-19 crisis? Learn more here about how you can become a Red Cross volunteer to meet these urgent needs.

For more photos of this volunteer event, please go to this Flickr album.

To see more regional stories and other content related to the Red Cross response to the coronavirus pandemic, please see this blog post.